Merced County Transit Cutting Service

November 26, 2008 10:02:26 PM PST
As holiday travelers take advantage of different transportation options, Merced County Transit is cutting back its service to deal with a lack of state funding.Stacey Wright relies on Merced County Transit to take her all over town and to help her through tough economic times. "I take the bus because I don't have a car right now, and gas being high, my husband's out of work and it's easy for us," said Wright. She and her son are also two of nearly two thousand people who ride "the bus" each Saturday. "I have a 5 year old and that's how we go out on the weekends to the mall or to the library," she added. But that's about to change...

Larry Shankland, Merced Co. Transit Manager said, "The board took action to suspend Saturday service beginning January 1st through the remainder of the fiscal year." Shankland says the county had to halt the Saturday service to deal with a lack of state funding. In January state leaders promised the system about 2.6 million dollars. But that amount was later slashed to about one million. So far "the bus" has only received a fourth of that funding. And now a proposal by the governor could mean it won't see a penny more.

Shankland said, "There's no additional funds to make up that shortfall if it becomes reality."

Shankland said that's why the transit system is considering a variety of rate hikes for the new year. One option is to eliminate discounts for seniors, the disabled and young children. That would raise their 25 dollar a month pass to the regular rate of 45 dollars. Wright says paying full price for her son would only add to her family's hardships, "It's gonna hurt a lot. So we'll have to tighten up somewhere else."

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